It is good for all of us to be here today to provide personal testimonials and tributes to George Pry, and to thank him for his outstanding service to his constituents, his community and his colleagues. Today I have the honor to represent Carlow University where George serves as a Trustee, a member of the Finance and Facilities Committee, and as Chair of the Investment Sub-committee. I also represent the presidents of the region’s higher education institutions as Chair of the Presidents’ Council of the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education.
As today’s ‘clean up’ hitter, I point out to you that I hear a common theme in testimonials about George, and that my remarks will serve to be a closing summary of tributes to George as an educator, a community leader, and a man of values.
We honor George not only for what he has done, but for how he has done it. He has demonstrated the best characteristics of a ‘serving leader’ who had to function within a demanding business model. In higher education, there are definitional separations and classifications among institutions: public, private; secular, religious; for profit, not for profit. However, some distinctions relate to MEANS (or how we accomplish our goals), not to ENDS (which address our ultimate goals). The END for all our institutions is to provide a quality education to our students. As we lead our institutions, we all pursue a purpose: our mission. We all serve in the place called ‘our community’, which we seek to change by our institution’s presence, products and influence. We all identify a vision for the future of our schools. We all seek to leave our institutions better off than we found them. Some call that progress; today, we call it George’s legacy. Earlier speakers have already identified George’s contributions, achievements and values in all these areas during his 11 years as an educational leader at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. I offer some remarks from the practitioner side, from the side of a colleague president who knows the challenges and joys of what George does.
It is important to note that the word EDUCATION differs from the word INSTRUCTION in its etymology and meaning. Instruction is a means to an end; it is putting into persons the knowledge needed to pursue goals, which are ends. On the other hand, education draws out of persons that which is inherently there: the ability to think for themselves, clearly and objectively, as rational beings, and to reach into their inner selves as spiritual beings to find their gifts, their values, and their connections to others. This is what George has done in his career as an educator, and this is what we praise him for today.
In honoring George as a colleague and peer in higher education, and as a friend in this community, we have focused on George’s integrity. Integrity means more than being honest and truthful. It embodies a wholeness of being and purpose which is grounded in sound moral principle. Not every leader brings this to the job. Some seek the P’s of power, prestige, perks, and privilege…and, in Pittsburgh, of parking! Our ‘P’ (as in PRY) has pursued other ‘Ps’: people, principle, performance. He has created and modeled an educational environment where a values-based culture is important, where we respect colleagues and other learners, and where we pursue collegial partnerships to enhance the educational opportunities for students. This is my experience in working with George. This is what he has brought to the Art Institute, to the Carlow Board of Trustees, to the community of Pittsburgh. He has been true to his name. To PRY (as a verb) is to look closely and inquisitively…and George has done this to advance the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. To PRY (as a noun) is a tool for raising or moving something by leverage…and this is what George has done for his academic community. George has successfully faced challenges and embraced opportunities with the eye of the educator, with the spirit of the servant leader, and with the mind of the entrepreneur. From these multiple perspectives has emerged a better Art Institute for his students, for higher education in the area, and for his community.
I speak for all the area’s Presidents when I wish George well as he travels into his future, pulls off the road to change tires for the journey (as in ‘re-tire’!), and moves on to his new challenges and commitments…with the integrity for which he is noted, and for which we honor him today.
-- Dr. Mary Hines, President, Carlow University